As we await news on who exactly will be throwing out of the shotgun to a five wide set that has Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Matt Forte, Bilal Powell, and either Devin Smith, Jace Amaro, or Quincy Enunwa, we decided to look at the six best free agents that the Jets should sign. Beneath the individual’s stats, you’ll see a reason for the signing as well as how the signing would impact the Jets potential draft plans. Keep in mind, these moves are made with the belief that the Jets have an offer ready for Muhammad Wilkerson, will not bring back Ryan Fitzpatrick at his current salary demands, and that D’Brickashaw Ferguson is released. Let’s get to it…
1. QB Robert Griffin, III
Why? With Ryan Fitzpatrick not being realistic and trying to cash in on a good season with a team that was searching for a franchise quarterback, the Jets have turned their attention to RG3. A career 64% passer with 40 passing touchdowns and only 23 interceptions, the former Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor is still only 26 years old. Humbled and most likely motivated to prove that Washington made a mistake hitching their proverbial wagon to Kirk Cousins, he would come at a much lower price than Fitzpatrick. As a scheme fit, he would be excellent in Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey’s system as his athleticism would allow him to get out of the pocket and his potent deep ball would allow the Jets to properly utilize second round pick Devin Smith.
Impact on Draft: His signing would lessen the chance that the Jets take a QB at 20, but an intriguing scenario could present itself if Paxton Lynch is available at 20. Do you take Paxton Lynch at 20 and let him sit behind RG3 with the chance that he won’t ever play if RG3 pans out? Can you go into the season with RG3, Bryce Petty, and a rookie? I doubt it.
2. RT Andre Smith
Why? Andre Smith had started 73 games at RT for the Bengals before he hit here agency this offseason. He is 29 years old and would represent an upgrade over Breno Giacomini. The former first round pick excels in run blocking and pass blocking. He struggled his first two seasons with Cincinnati, but has since turned into one of the better right tackles in the AFC.
Impact on Draft: The Jets, after signing Andre, would be in a position to draft Taylor Decker or Jack Conklin at 20 and have them slotted ins the team’s starting LT from day one. An offensive line of Decker, Winters/Harrison, Mangold, Carpenter, and Smith is young enough to be together for a while. This signing would not preclude the Jets from drafting an OL.
3. LT Kelvin Beachum
Why?: Kelvin Beachum is 26 years old and coming off a year ravaged by injuries. However, before the knee injuries he was playing like a franchise LT. He’s started 39 games in his career, and is a better pass blocker than run blocker. He is able to handle speed rushers well, and with him out the Steelers struggled to protect Ben Roethlisberger.
Impact on Draft: If the Jets were to sign Kelvin Beachum and Andre Smith, then what they could do is still draft Taylor Decker at 20 and have him start at LG. An offensive line of Kelvin Beachum, Taylor Decker, Nick Mangold, James Carpenter, and Andre Smith would be able to keep RG3 upright. Beachum would come cheaper than Ferguson, and at worst provide you the same level of play. If you can turn Ferguson’s $14M cap hit into Kelvin Beachum and Andre Smith, then you’ve now improved your OL. It gives you the flexibility to improve the interior of the OL during the draft.
4. TE Zach Miller
Why? With the release of Jeff Cumberland, the Jets are in need of some depth behind presumptive starting TE/H-Back Quincy Enunwa. Miller would provide the Jets a good in-line TE. He is a former Pro Bowler, and is a better receiver than he is given credit for.
Impact on Draft: The Jets weren’t going to consider a TE with their first two draft picks. Adding Miller all but guarantees they won’t draft a TE at all and it lets them go into the season with Miller, Jace Amaro, and either the newly resigned Zach Sudfeld or Wes Saxton as their primary TEs while Enunwa is still utilized as the H-back or move TE.
Why?: The Jets need depth behind Leonard Williams and a potentially soon to be suspended Sheldon Richardson. The former first round pick provides just that. While never really living up to his first round status, he provided good depth behind a very good Rams defensive line. From the 3 technique, he can rush the passer and is solid at stuffing the run. I trust Bowles to find opportunities for him to see the field if they slide either Williams or Richardson inside or in 4 man fronts with 7th round draft pick Deon Simon playing the other DT.
Impact on Draft: Signing Fairley would preclude the Jets from drafting Emmanual Ogbah or Kevin Dodd, who are more traditional DEs. It would not preclude the Jets from drafting Noah Spence or Shaq Lawson, who would both start at OLB in the Jets base 3-4.
6. WR Andre Holmes
Why? 6’4″ and 210 pounds makes Holmes the type of WR the Jets could target as insurance for Devin Smith as he recovers from the injuries. Holmes is a big play WR that has been inconsistent during his career, but would be excellent playing from the outside while Decker remains as the team’s primary slot WR. He is a better WR than Kembrell Tompkins and would give the Jets another big WR in the red zone.
Impact on Draft: Brandon Marshall, Decker, Devin Smith, and Andre Holmes wouldn’t preclude the Jets from drafting a guy like Laquan Treadwell at 20 or Pharaoh Cooper in round two. Due to Smith’s injuries and Holmes’s inconsistency, it actually would be wise if they drafted a WR as they plan for life after Marshall.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com